DAVID Rawnsley is a car guy to the core, and likes to dabble in all areas of the hobby. Whether it be a factory-style restoration, full-on race car or tough streeter, he will try his hand at all aspects of the build process and has a variety of project cars to his credit. Hailing from Alice Springs, David has a reputation as the ‘Val guy’ of the Red Centre, but his interests range far beyond the five points of the Pentastar. 01: DAVID’S stepfather Graeme came into his life when he was nine years old. “From that point on we became a motorsport family,” David says. “Without his influence my life would not have taken the automotive path. He owned a genuine Monte Carlo BMC works Mini Cooper and raced this crossflow 1310cc Clubman in the Nubrik Mini racing series. He would take us to Sandown, Winton and Calder, which is where I was bitten hard by the racing bug.” 02: AT 17, David was ready for his own set of wheels and chose a 180B SSS coupe as his first car. “Graeme asked me: ‘What do you want in a car?’ I said: ‘Two doors, lots of carbies and lots of gears.’ That ruled out a three-speed Charger, but we managed to turn the Datsun into a bit of a goer with a 2.1L stroker engine, twin 45mm Webers, 240K five-speed and 240K diff. It even had Volvo rear discs and ran a flat 13-second pass at Calder in 1988.” 03: THE Datsun made way for an HZ panel van in 1990, which was originally bought as a tow car for David’s off-road buggy. A change in plans saw David move from Melbourne to Innisfail in Far North Queensland, so the van was decked out to help with the relocation. Marriage and other priorities put a brake on the car hobby for the next few years, however he did manage to piece together an early-70s Toyota Crown with a 186 and Trimatic. “I repainted it metallic green and added a gold pinstripe with gold Hotwires.
It looked pretty neat and was my first attempt at spraying a car.” 04: WHEN David was around 12 he saw his first Cobra. “I made a promise that I would have one someday,” he remembers. “That desire was really burning hot 20 years later, and became a reality when we moved to Alice Springs in 2002. Within 18 months I’d saved for a kit, then spent the next five years piecing it together. It runs a 5.7 LS1 and T56 trans, and once it was registered in 2010 it was driven to Innisfail in FNQ for its ‘shakedown’ run! The car still wears tinted primer to give it a worn-out race-car look.
I keep threatening to make it shiny, but I just love it too much as it is.” 05: IN 2008 David decided it was time to build a car for his wife, Ronda. She likes Ford hardtops and Chargers, but with skyrocketing prices for 70s Falcon coupes, she decided a Charger was the go. “A mate told me of one that had been dumped out bush, so I grabbed it,” David says.
“But I found it was very rusty in the floor and rails due to sitting in desert sand. I found a guy building a Charger as a speedway car, but the project had stalled, so I bought it and a V8 VK Valiant sedan for parts. The speedway car had
a rusty plenum and poorly removed roof, but between both Chargers I had enough parts to make a rust-free shell. The plan is to finish it in Focus Burnt Orange, with an NZ Regal front and a stroker 440.” 06: RONDA’S uncle, George, passed away in 2008 and left his VH Valiant ex-hearse to David. “I originally intended to use it as a donor for the Charger, but after getting it home and cleaning it up I sort of fell in love with it,” he laughs. The VK V8 was dismantled and the wagon, now christened ‘George’, received the V8 driveline. “I was asked if George could be used in a movie, so he makes a guest appearance in Tracks.” 07: RONDA’S first car was a 1967 Toyota ‘shovelnose’ Corona. “I decided to build another to enjoy while the Charger is on the go,” David says. “My knowledge of these little beauties was zero, but the guys and girls on a Facebook group called Shovelnose Corona Restorers & Modifiers have taught me plenty.
Our goal was the Red CentreNATS held recently in Alice Springs, and in two weeks Dez Willis and I turned the car from a bare metal shell into a repaired, painted and buffed little looker with a lace roof. It was another two-week thrash to reassemble it, and I can happily say I welded the stainless tip on the exhaust at 10am of scrutineering day.” 08: DAVID’S work life sends him to remote places in central Australia and as a result he has stumbled on many abandoned wrecks – check out his excellent Facebook page, Alice Springs Bush Wrecks. “I’ve spotted everything from Monaros and Sandmans through to GS Falcons,” he says. “I have always had a soft spot for both Valiant coupes and Pacers, so when I found this lonely VG Pacer hardtop I just had to have it. It now sits in my yard as I slowly collect parts for its rebuild. It’s not a free-for-all; these cars still have an owner so you need to purchase them legally through the proper community channels.” s